Labor Day Week: Making glass bottles and glass door knobs


Lewis Wickes Hine, [Blowers in green glass monkey shop, T.C. Wheaton Company, Millville, New Jersey], March 26, 1937 (906.1975)

Millville, New Jersey – Glass bottles. T.C. Wheaton Co. Green glass monkey shop. This shows the set-up of a green glass blowing shop. Monkey shops are said to be the same as the others but the bottles are smaller and the work must be done much more rapidly. The two men standing up at the left hand side of the picture facing front are blowers. Two always work together in a shop of this kind. They take the glass from the oven and drop it in a mould, which in this case is in front of the man who is sitting down in the center of the picture. A blower at the right is rolling the glass on an iron sheet getting it ready to blow. The one at the left with cheeks distended is blowing a bottle. The laborer to the left of this blower takes the blow rods after the blower is finished with them, knocks off the excess glass, and hands them back to the first blower again. The shutting mould boy seated in the center of the picture opens the mould and puts the glass bottle on the scales to his right. They are then lifted up and finished off by the man seated on the right hand center of the picture, the gaffer for this shop. The laborer facing front in the right center of the picture is the snapping-up boy who takes the bottles from the gaffer to the annealing oven. (archives.gov)


Lewis Wickes Hine, [Blower twisting bottles in a “turn-mould” to remove seams while sixty-year-old “mould-boy” opens mould to release bottle and closes it again around now hot “gob” of glass that has been inserted by the blower, T.C. Wheaton Company, Millville, New Jersey], 1936-37 (925.1975)

T.C. Wheaton. Hand-blown bottles in a “turn-mould”. As the bottle is being blown, the blower twists it back and forth in the mould. This removes the seams that come on the cheaper bottles that are merely pressed, so they are more expensive than the latter. Also called “paste-mould” bottles because the mould is lined with a special kind of paste that gives the bottle a higher lustre. Below is the “mould-boy” (often about 60 years old) in a mould-hole. He opens the mould to release the bottle and closes it again around the now hot “gob” of glass that has been inserted by the blower. The boy sprinkles some powder into the mould and keeps the mould wet, which is not done for the ordinary bottles. (archives.gov)


Lewis Wickes Hine, [Workers pressing glass door knobs, T. C. Wheaton Company, Millville, New Jersey], March 26, 1937 (905.1975)

Millville, New Jersey. Pressing and shaping in T. C. Wheaton Co. Pressing door knobs. The man on the left takes the glass from the oven just behind him in the picture on a rod and drops it into the mould which can be seen in the lower center of the picture. A plunger then goes down and presses the glass into place. The man with the skull cap opens the mould and puts the door knob into sand which may be seen in the picture. The young man on the right carries the knob on a shovel which is beside him to the finishers, where they are completed. (archives.gov)


Lewis Wickes Hine, [“Carrying-in-boy,” about sixty years old, putting paddle-load of glass stoppers from shop that produces them and putting into “lehr” (annealing oven), T.C. Wheaton Company, Millville, New Jersey], 1936-37 (924.1975)

T.C. Wheaton “Carrying-in-boy,” (about 60 years of age) putting a puddle-load of glass stoppers from the “shop” that produces them (see 434) and putting them into the “lehr” (annearling oven). Here they (and the bottles also) that come from the shop and the blowers at a temperature of 1500 degrees F. are gradually cooled during from 2 to 5 hours of reducing temperature to remove molecular strain and thus avoid cracking and bursting. The ordinary run of flint glass bottles cool in about 2 1/2 hours while Amber bottles take twice as long. (archives.gov)


Lewis Wickes Hine, [Two workers stamping glass jars with new device for lettering painted bottles, T. C. Wheaton Company, Millville, New Jersey], 1936-37 (897.1975)

Millville, New Jersey – Glass bottles. Two girls stamping glass jars in the art room at T. C. Wheaton Company. This is a stamping device developed by this company for lettering painted bottles. Ink is put under the screen in which there are perforations for the lettering, and the jar is rolled over the top of it. The girl in front is controlling the lever which presses the jar as it rolls over the screen. (archives.gov)


Lewis Wickes Hine, [Eighty-three-year-old stopper-grinder, T. C. Wheaton Company, Millville, New Jersey], March 26, 1937 (898.1975)

Millville, New Jersey – Glass bottles. Stopper-grinder at T. C. Wheaton Co. This man 83 years old has been working for this factory at this job since he was 15. He is smoothing and shaping stoppers to fit the bottles at the lower right hand corner of the picture. With a solution of pumice and water he wets down the emery wheel exactly the shape of the neck of the bottle. He whirls the emery wheel by pressing a foot treadle. By pressing the stopper of the bottle against this emery wheel he is able to shape it to the required form. He is able also to re-shape the neck of the bottle so that stopper and bottle fit together exactly. (archives.gov)


Lewis Wickes Hine, [Unskilled wash-and-tie girl tying stoppers to bottles, T.C. Wheaton Company, Millville, New Jersey], March 26, 1937 (900.1975)

Millville, New Jersey – Glass bottles. A wash and tie girl tying stoppers to bottles. This is one of the few unskilled jobs for women in the glass factory. A wash and tie girl takes the bottle from the stopper grinders, washes it with automatic sprayers and ties the stopper to the bottle for packaging. (T. C. Wheaton Co.). (archives.gov)

Lewis W. Hine (1874-1940) photographed the workers and work in the T. C. Wheaton Company in the Spring of 1937. The T. C. Wheaton Company was founded by Theodore C. Wheaton in Millville, New Jersey (approximately 116 miles south of where these photos are currently housed) in 1888. The Wheaton company still exists. Currently the Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center and Museum of American Glass celebrates the “creativity and craftsmanship of American glass.”

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